Judson Memorial Church

Art & Culture | History

Where to Find Justice, Art, Worship, and...The Gym?

judson memorial church exterior greenwich village

About Judson Memorial Church

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Judson Memorial Church, on the corner of Washington Square South and Thompson Street, dated back to 1890, was created by the period’s most renowned artists. 
  • The architecture firm McKim, Mead & White, created the church in the Lombardo-Romanesque style. This firm also did the Washington Square Arch and part of the Met Museum. 
  • The stained glass windows are by John La Farge, and American Renaissance sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Herbert Adams created the marble baptistery. Saint-Gaudens also designed the Sherman Monument at Grand Army Plaza on 59th Street outside Central Park. 
  • But how did the church bag such artistic heavy-hitters? John D. Rockefeller bankrolled the whole thing.  
  • The church’s namesake, Edward Judson, was a Baptist minister named after his father, the first American missionary to Burma.   
    • Judson wanted to create a church accessible to both the Italian immigrant community in the South Village and the high society folks in Washington Square North. 
    • The resulting style was Romanesque revival, so that it would remind the immigrant community of home and give them comfort in their new country, but also enticing to the wealthy elite. 
  • While the elite never came knocking, the Italian community did, and the church became a center of outreach and activism.  
    • For example, Dr. Eleanor Campbell founded the Judson Health Center in 1921. By 1924, it was the largest clinic of its kind in the United States, and it still functions today on Spring Street. 
    • In the 60s, Judson Church opened the first drug treatment center in Greenwich Village. 
    • In 1967, reverend Howard Moody set up a nation-wide network of 1,400 inter-faith clergy members willing to help women seeking abortions.  
    • In the ‘80s, the church provided support groups and funeral services for people with AIDS. 
  • In addition to social justice work, Moody also made the church a center for avant-garde art and theater, because he saw modern artists and philosophers as spiritual guides. 
    • The Judson Art Gallery exhibited the likes of Claes Oldenburg and Yoko Ono. 
    • The Judson Dance Theater became the home of Post-Modern American Dance  
    • Judson Poets Theater became one of three founding venues for Off-Off-Broadway Theater.  
  • Justice, Art, and Worship are still the Credo of the Church 
    • Judson offers Judson Art Wednesdays, hosting art, theater, dance, and poetry. 
    • The church is a Sanctuary Congregation and offers an immigration rights/reform legalclinic every Tuesday. 

Carpe City Trivia

You can go to The Gym at the Judson

But don’t expect to lift weights. Since many theaters in Greenwich Village have closed their doors over the past decade, Judson decided to turn its gym space into a theater in 2011! The Gym at Judson is an Off-Off-Broadway theater called “a workout space for the arts.” 

By: Lucie Levine

New York City Tours

Great Places Near Judson Memorial Church

Edgar Allan Poe building greenwich village
Art & Culture

Edgar Allan Poe

"Nothing more" is far from reality for this historical location!

85 West 3rd Street, New York, NY 10012
Louisa May Alcott macdougal street greenwich village
Art & Culture

Louisa May Alcott

The Legend of Little Women

130 MacDougal Street, New York, NY 10012
Washington Square Park Chess tables greenwich village
Art & Culture

Chess Boards of Washington Square Park

Watch Some Great Chess in One of New York City’s Best Parks

37 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10011
Tokyo record bar interior greenwich village restaurant

Tokyo Record Bar

Hip, Festive and Uniquely Musical Subterranean Dining Experience

127 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
caffe reggio exterior greenwich village
Art & Culture

Caffe Reggio

The Café with America’s First Cappuccino and 16th Century Fine Art

119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
Picasso Statue greenwich village art
Art & Culture

Picasso Statue

A splendid Picasso re-creation among "Silver Towers"

NYU Silver Towers Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Comedy Cellar sign greenwich village
Art & Culture

Comedy Cellar

One of the Best Venues for Comedy in the City

117 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
Up & Up drink and menu greenwich village cocktails
Art & Culture

Up & Up

Definitely Go Down to Up and Up!

116 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
washington square park fountain greenwich village
Art & Culture

Washington Square Park

Iconic Greenspace Considered the Heart of Greenwich Village

14 Washington Square N, New York, NY 10011

More Great Walking Tours


Sign up to our monthly e-mail about the latest and greatest places for food, wine art and history

Skip to content